Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Holidays!

"Whether you've been naughty or nice, hope you have a great holiday!"

And that's my design for the 2008 Plastic Spoon Press official holiday card featuring, as usual, my good buddy, Mr. Mucho! I hope everyone who wanted one of these got one in the mail but, for those of you I missed, I apologize and hope that you too have great fun with family and friends this holiday season.

Another gift I'd like to impart to you is one of my favorite Christmas songs by Bruce Springsteen. No, it's not "Santa Claus is Coming to Town", "Merry Christmas, Baby", or even "Run Run Rudolph." Nope, this song is one I've only heard in one place and it's on a cassette tape given to me years ago of a live Springsteen show in Brixton, England circa 1996. I honestly don't even know the name of it but I can guess it's called "Pilgrim in the Temple of Love."

It's the story of Bruce Springsteen and the adventures he has one Christmas Eve at a little roadside strip joint. And, for those of you with delicate ears or kids within earshot, be warned, the Boss does curse. But, that makes it all the more fun.

So, here it is, one of my FAVORITE holiday songs. This one's for Sam! Enjoy and have a great holiday!

Edit: If the song doesn't pop up in the window you can find the original file HERE.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Now I'm Famous! LOL

Because you just haven't "made it" until someone names a sandwich after you!

Thank you, Einstein's Bagels!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Disc Golf

I've heard about disc golf (or frisbee golf) a lot but I've never had the pleasure of playing the game. I can only imagine the things I do bad on a golf course with a driver and a ball would only be amplified if I started chucking a frisbee around the links.

This was the last book of the four book contract I just finished. Putting this one together last was a tough one because I was battling exhaustion and almost every interior illustration of the book had at least four or more characters in it. But, as usual, I just hunkered down, worked every day, and got it done.

And, as for the finished results?

Ask me again in a week...I may be fully rested and ready to look at it with fresh eyes by then :)

Friday, December 19, 2008

Tennis Anyone?

Nothing too witty today with this one.

The biggest thing I remember about doing this book was how I could just NOT wrap my head around the way they keep score in tennis. I mean, the interior text explained scoring in such a way that a kid with a fourth grade reading level could figure it out and I still just couldn't get it. It didn't make illustrating the image with the scoreboard in the background easy but, thanks to Google image search, I found something I could copy so I hope it's right.

Any of you kids out there who see it and think it's wrong, you know where to email me :)

I spent most of the day putting together my greeting cards for this season. For some reason, addressing the envelopes, writing in each card, signing each card, sealing the envelopes, and putting the stamps and return address stickers on everything actually took longer than it did to illustrate the cards in the first place. But, I think it's all worth it. I think it beats a printed signature and sending the cards out to some service who does all the work for me. This way, every card has a little love in each one.

I just wish it didn't take so long. Stupid love...

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Run, Rabbit, Run - Part 2

As promised yesterday, here was my initial idea for the cover of the Jake Maddox Track book.

I love the idea of the kid running straight at the viewer, a big grin on his face, happy to be doing the one thing in life he really loves, running. I really would have loved to have seen how this would have turned out as a finished inked and colored cover but it just wasn't in the cards. When my art director suggested I pull one of the images from the interior and color it to make that the cover, I jumped at the chance because, honestly, it saved me doing a bit of work. At the time I'm sure I was juggling multiple thing so saving a few hours of art table time seemed like a good idea.

But, I still like this idea.

All the more because, living in Boulder, I see a LOT of people running and jogging and walking for exercise. And never, not once, have I ever seen one person who is running for exercise smiling.

Not one single time.

So, I like the idea of a kid who is smiling and running. Living life doing what he loves in a care free way. It just shows what kind of fantasy land my head lives in.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Run, Rabbit, Run!

You know it's been really cold when you wake up in the morning, there is still snow on the ground, but you're just REALLY happy that the ice on the INSIDE of your windows is gone. Yeah, that's how cold it's been. I think we dropped to minus eight last night so a day of weather in the twenties has been really nice. At least when I walk outside now I don't feel like Old Man Winter is trying to steal the breath out of my lungs.

I'm on day two of my "almost taking some time off" week. Meaning that I'm taking it easy, going to the movies and watching some hockey, but still doing thumbnails and some prep work for the NASCAR books that are looming in the near future. I even went to Target today and bought myself a little die-cast NASCAR race car for reference. At least that's what I'll tell the government when I do my taxes. I'll conveniently leave off the fact that I sat on the floor going "vroom vroom" with it as soon as I got it out of the box. We'll keep that to ourselves.

Todays cover was for a children's book about a young kid who is forced to join the school's track team after water balloon soaking the team's older captain. Instead of some high school fist justice, he offers to let our hero come onto the team and use his speed for a good purpose. Of course, the two kids become friends and the hero ends up loving his new sport.

This is actually the second idea for the cover I had. My first idea had our hero running straight at the camera but that idea was shot down and lost out to the more traditional shot from the side. I'll have to dig up that initial sketch so you can compare the two and decided for yourself which one you like better.

Have a happy hump-day! The week is half over and next week is holiday fun!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Done and Done!

Today I put the finishing touches on the last book in the four book contract I had for the latest run of Jake Maddox books for Stone Arch Books.

So, I have a week or two off before I have to start the next ones, another four book contract by Jake Maddox that deals with Nascar Racing. Of course, two weeks off means I just have to do the next four covers for the books in that time and that is all. But, it does beat having to do a full book in two weeks time. So, I count it as having at least some time to get my head together. Which is a good thing.

Here is one of the book covers I just finished for a book called "Mr. Strike Out."

There's more to come in the next few days but, for now, I'm exhausted and am off to bed. Enjoy and have a great day!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

At least it didn't turn into this...

OK, my gig at the Laughing Goat last night may not have been the best, but at least it didn't turn into this story I found on

"Taking the term "death metal" to an all new level, a 19-year-old Italian heavy metal singer was arrested for stabbing the guitarist in her band.

Christina Baizano of the band Soul Cry reportedly stabbed the 16-year-old guitarist of her band for playing the wrong notes during a rehearsal. She accused the guitarist of "sounding evil".

Baizano is being charged by the Genovese police for attempted murder.

There’s no doubt that rock music has a history of egotistical singers and band conflicts, but very rarely do we see singers stabbing their guitarists. In her defense, however, maybe he really messed up that solo."

So, yeah, that I escaped with my life after playing a gig is sounding better and better all the time.

The Laughing Goat Christmas Show

I did another quick sit in at Lou's Laughing Goat Christmas show. There's no audio this time but I was lucky enough to have Monika snap a few photos during my time on stage. Maybe next time I'll actually get a recording AND pictures? Hell, in this age, you'd think I could pull it together enough to actually get a video. But, not yet.

It went well, once again no one threw anything at me and, near as I can tell, no one's ears bled. The music was mixed a bit odd and I never got really comfortable. I hope it sounded good. With no recording of the show, I'll never know.

As with the first show, Lou helped out on bass. It's, at the same time, a help and challenge to have him on stage with me. It's a help in that there is at least someone else up there to use as a human shield in case the crowd gets rowdy and decides to rush the stage. It's a challenge in that none of the songs are really that well rehearsed between the two of us and he ends up going off on his own at some points. So, I'm left to try and drown him out while concentrating on the music and lyrics I should be playing myself.

At the end of the night I was given the duty to play percussion on a few of Lou's songs. With Santa hat on head, I did my best to keep the beat with the only percussion instrument available...a crash cymbal. Oh, and for drum sticks...a pair of chop sticks. Never let it be said that one of Lou's shows skimps on gear for its performers.

How do you keep the beat using only a crash cymbal, you ask? By hitting it on every part I could find. Hitting the bell for certain parts, the middle part for rhythm, and the edge for the crashes. It worked out well but some of Lou's songs have odd timing that changes throughout the song. So, like playing my own songs, playing along with him on his own songs is a challenge.

I think, by this time, at the end of the show, there were so few people there that no one cared what we did.

It was a fun show and, if I can get the courage up again, I'll be doing it again in the future.

I might not wear the hat next time though.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Back at it...'s been a while...sorry...I've been busy.

Right now, I am inking the fourth book of the newest series for Stone Arch Books. While doing these books, I've also been juggling prepping and doing thumbnails for the next four books which feature Nascar race cars. By Monday, I should have a little breathing room before the holidays but I'll still be doing the four covers for the Nascar books during my "time off".

Then, come the first of the year, I'll be doing back to back to back books until the start of March in order to finish up this contract. It'll be eight weeks of no time off but I think I can manage it.

Usually, in past years, once I get past the stretch of work I have during the winter, I usually get a few months off. This year, I had planned to take that time and do some more work on the OilCan Drive books. But, if all goes as planned, I'll be starting on some more work for books, this time with a different client on an inspirational book for boys. It's about three to four times the workload of a regular Stone Arch book and will keep me busy until June.

Around which time, I'm sure something else will pop up and keep me busy until who-knows-when.

Now, I know I shouldn't be complaining and I'm really not. I get to draw pictures and somehow make a good living at it. And, in these hard economic times I actually feel guilty for being so busy and griping about it.

But, I could use some time off. The one problem I've had with doing freelance work is that it never ends. I don't punch out at five o'clock and forget about the work of that day. I can't "leave this project for the next shift to finish it." If I don't do it, it doesn't get done. And, as much as people offer to help me out, I know they can't draw or ink the way I do. So, I keep doing it. All alone.

The one thing that's been heartbreaking is coming to terms with myself about the scope of the OilCan Drive project and just how much time it would take to get it done the way I want to do it. Based off the full length movie script I wrote, the OilCan Drive book would run at least two hundred pages long as a comic book. Probably more. With how much time it takes me to do an OilCan Drive page, it would take me over a year and a half, if I had no one offering me work, everyone leaving me alone, to get it done.

And, when is the last time I had more than a month off from someone offering me a job?

So, if I worked doing the pages between the paying gigs, I think I'd get the book done...oh...I don't the time I'm fifty?

Originally, I envisioned doing mini-comics, ten pages long, of parts of the book as I finished it so I could put something out on a monthly basis. I had planned to have the first one out in October or November. It's mid December and I only have four of the ten pages done.

So, for now, I'm putting the OilCan Drive project to bed. Don't get me wrong, I love the characters and want to keep them alive somehow. I love drawing them, telling stories about them, and writing songs as them. I don't want to stop doing this. Doing the pages I finished was so fulfilling and fun. The art from above is the cover for the first issue of the mini-comic I hope to put out. I think it could have been a fun little project to do.

But, I don't have the time.

So, for now, I need to put them to bed and take the weight and stress I put on myself to do this project off my shoulders.

I'm sure at some point in the future Ill do something. I'd love to do more mini-stories but the last time I did one of those the comment I heard most was, "it's short". Which drove me to write a longer story that I'll probably never have the time to do. So, if anyone has any ideas, I'm all ears.

OilCan Drive will live somehow. Even if it's only in my own head. I'm sure when I have more than two days in a row off the first thing I'll think of doing is some kind of OilCan Drive piece. Even tomorrow I'll be playing a show again with Lou doing some more OilCan Drive material.

But, as for the art and story, if anyone has any ideas, let me know.